Until last week, I hadn’t seen the original Wolf Creek in approximately 12 years. That viewing just shocked the fuck out of me with its brutality and, despite the 3.5 star rating I stand by, I didn’t care to sit through it again.
Then along came the Wolf Creek TV Series, two seasons, that pretty much kicked the shit out of the cumulative peaks of all the other slasher TV shows combined. I decided to strap on my backpack, break in the hiking boots, pack a knife, and venture back to the original movie.
Knowing in advance that neither Liz nor Kristy will survive slightly reduced the tension watching their various attempts to escape from Mick. Yes, they should’ve at least tied him up when he was out cold; Yes, she wasted some time watching the camcorder footage, but do you want a slasher film or not, armchair critics? (And fuck alla y’all with the misogynistic “they r stupid bitchezzz!” comments at this juncture).
Wolf Creek fools us into believing Liz will be the final girl based on her actions thus far, and so when Mick magically appears in the backseat of the car she finds (again, it’s a slasher film, people) and knifes her in the back, it’s still shocking. Mick’s banter while this dying girl tries to crawl away elicits a mix of laughter and shock from most people, more so when he takes her fingertips off and then renders her a head on a stick. That said, it occurred to me that Liz doesn’t necessarily die there and then (a worse fate, you might argue) and it’d be kinda neat if she turned up in Wolf Creek 3 in a wheelchair and was rescued. Dare to dream, I guess. It’s an especially vicious turn of events, heightened by Cassandra Macgrath’s excellently acted reaction, something we’re normally spared in contemporary American slasher movies. The above still really triggers a feeling of repulsion for me.
Final girl reigns seem to be passed along to Kristy, who is momentarily rescued by a motorist, then commandeers his car for herself – even re-watching it I prayed that there was some kind of alternate cut where she was going to make it. Alas, she too is once again sent through the never ending mangle of horror, but (mercifully?) shot by Mick before taking any more of his abuse.
The outcome of Ben being the only one who lives is part of what makes Wolf Creek stay with you. We’re so accustomed to a final girl, that it seems almost perverse to see Ben totter to freedom, although it’s worth noting he doesn’t encounter Mick again, nor does he seem bothered about searching for Liz or Kristy at the camp. His survival is pretty much incidental, even a little “unfair” in light of what we saw the girls go through – Ben suffers the least yet gets to live on. His character returned in the first series of the TV show, having gone mad over the intervening years.
Wolf Creek still stings like a hard slap and as much as I wish one of the girls had emerged as the heroine, the deviation from the standard rules is what sets it apart. Mick, after all, is presented as a heterosexual predator of nubile young women, that one of them isn’t able to rise up and bury an axe in his balls is a necessary jagged little pill of the reality of the events the film is based on. Greg McLean has made an excellent film, it’s just hugely uncomfortable viewing.
Maybe I’ll watch it again in 2030.